Bored with the Word

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When I did this at one church, a staff member whom I’d asked for feedback between services told me to cut down on the Scripture quotations. “You’ll lose people,” he said.

PreacherMark Galli of Christianity Today magazine, in “Yawning at the Word,” recently reflected on why people in churches today tune the Word of God out in sermons, Sunday schools and Bible studies. He says that this is not just his own observation, but a present reality. In our narcissistic culture, the listening audience has lost their interest in everything that is not “relevant” to their lives, or stories that are not contemporary, funny or spectacular.

In my daughter’s high school chapels, the Bible is seldom read, and instead, most of the time is spent on singing, stories and funny videos. “Spiritual enrichment” is all about fun and games. I went to a home Bible study once where the leader was instructed to stay exclusively on the text at hand and not look at other pertinent Biblical texts.

I have heard many preachers read a verse or two for the sermon text, and move on to other things, never again going back to the text, and I often wonder how the text was related to the sermon. And why be appalled at the Biblical illiteracy of so many when churches spend so much time singing and dancing and laughing?

What is it that makes church people today stay glued to American Idol, Winter Olympics, Avatar, Guitar Hero, and Joel Osteen for hours, but doze off at the 5th minute of a sermon? Granted, some preachers deserve a 5-minute attention span, but I doubt that this culture will pay more attention even to George Whitefield or Charles Spurgeon.

What would itching ears prefer to hear: sound interpretation of Biblical texts, or spectacular speculations and flattery? See them yawn and fidget when you start expounding how Daniel 9:24 is fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Christ using Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Timothy 3:16, and Hebrews 9:11–14, 23–24. But see their eyes widen and their heads nodding and listen to shouts of “Praise the Lord!” when you prophesy that God will make the Philippines his blessed nation in 2010 because it is the 490th year since its founding by Ferdinand Magellan.

It seems that evangelicals with normal attention spans only come down with ADHD as soon as they hear the Word of God read or preached. The Holy Scripture is our witness that true love for God is always accompanied by love and hunger for his Word. Is there true love for God then when so many who say, “The Bible is my only creed,” turn out to be devoid of very basic Biblical and doctrinal knowledge?

Let’s hear it from the Word:

Psalm 1:2: but his [the blessed man] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 19:8, 10: The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart… More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 112:1: Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 119:47: For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.

Matthew 4:4: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

John 8:31: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”

Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

1 Thessalonians 2:13: When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.

If you truly love God, you will delight in his Word, not be bored.

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